St. Bede School, a parochial staple in the Ingleside community since 1958, will remain open through next year, and possibly longer.
A successful campaign through a GoFundMe page, initiated by a former student, raised the necessary goal of $400,000.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago had advised the school Dec. 12 that unless a minimum of $400,000 was raised by Jan. 26, the school would be closed because of financial considerations.
The archdiocese had announced the closure of St. Francis of Rome School in Cicero and St. Odilo School in Berwyn Jan. 18. A primary reason was the loss of a state scholarship program that ended in 2023 and was not renewed by the state legislature.
“Invest in Kids” allowed a 75 percent tax credit to individuals and corporations that donated to the program, and benefited underserved students.
“We are doing all that we can to keep our schools open, but the loss of the scholarship program will hurt,” said Gregory Richmond, the archdiocese’s superintendent of schools, in a press statement.
St Bede School, located at 36399 N. Wilson Road, faced the same challenge, in addition to a declining enrollment of its student population.
Carmel High School, Mundelein, senior Susan Lutzke, a former St. Bede student, set up a GoFundMe account. In a little over a month, the goal was surpassed. The Pre-K-eighth-grade school was informed Jan. 19 by the archdiocese that it would remain open.
“The concern is enrollment needs to grow in order to cover expenses and to sustain ourselves,” said Dr. Lynne Strutzel, the school’s co-principal. “Anything above the $400,000 will be invested and we want to provide support for our students. Some scholarship funds are being forwarded by the archdiocese.
Strutzel also said the archdiocese is assisting with the effective use of funds and student enrollment, promising $50,000 toward working capital and student enrollment. Its western Lake County student population base will not be augmented from further areas.
St. Bede School opened as part of the Our Lady of the Lakes jurisdiction, and currently has 194 students. State records indicate 31 students at the school receive $145,000 in scholarship funding from the now-defunct tax credit program that was administered through the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Attempts to reach the archdiocese for comment were unsuccessful.
In a subsequent statement, Richmond said, “(It) reflects how much Catholic schools are valued … the support from neighboring schools, in particular, demonstrates how connected we are in our mission of faith and service.”
“We send a huge ‘thank you’ and recognize the work of Susan Lutzke,” said Strutzel. “This shows how important it is to take direct action, and the difference you can make. She was nervous about it.
“I was a former teacher, and also a principal at Carmel, and some of former St. Bede’s students went there,” she said. “It touched my heart.”